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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2006;587:285-302.

MRS as endogenous molecular imaging for brain and prostate tumors: FP6 project "eTUMOR".

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Aplicaciones Biofísicas y Biomédicas de la RMN Depto. Química Física, Universitat de Valencia.


Molecular imaging has become during the last years in an important tool for supporting cancer diagnosis and prognosis. PET and SPECT are the most common molecular imaging techniques, although very promising and specific biological molecular agent contrast for CT and MRI are being recently developed. However, the above imaging techniques require exogenous contrast agents and usually a sole molecular image can be obtained at once. On the contrary, in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), in particular 1H MRS can simultaneously provide several molecular images using endogenous metabolites. In addition to biochemical spatial information from molecular imaging spectroscopy, MRS can also provide average metabolite profile of the selected affected tissue region. Initially MRS, especially 1H MRS, was extensively applied to complete and improve the diagnosis and prognosis of central nervous system (CNS) pathologies, in particular brain tumors. However, during the last years the MRS applications have been extent to the diagnosis of different very common cancer types such as breast, prostate, colon carcinoma, and ovarian, among others. Likewise, MRS has been also used for lymph node assessment. In this contribution, the added value of MRS for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment selection of two different, important types of cancer: (1) brain tumors and (2) prostate, will be presented and discussed. Brain tumors are the leading cause of death in children under 15, and although in adults, brain cancers are proportionately less common than other cancers, it is a devastating disease with high mortality. There is a great need to increase our understanding of brain tumor biology to improve diagnosis and to develop new treatments. 1H MRS is currently the only noninvasive method that can be used to investigate molecular profile of brain tumors and also provide molecular images, more than six in one acquisition, of the distribution of chemicals in a tumor, which are also generally heterogeneous. A summary of the applications of 1H MRS to the in vivo diagnosis and prognosis of brain tumors will be presented. In addition, examples of metabolite limits, infiltration and high cellularity location for neurosurgery applications by MRS molecular images will be shown. Likewise, new ex vivo methods of studying the detailed biochemistry of tumor biopsies as metabolomic (high resolution magic angle spinning [HR-MAS]) and transcriptomic (DNA microarrays) will be discussed as complementary to in vivo MRS (FP6 European project eTUMOR). A preliminary comparison between molecular images from PET and 1H MRS will be also presented. Finally, the application of 1H MRS to the improvement of prostate diagnosis and prognosis, the second leading cause of cancer death, will also discussed, with particular attention to the location cancer contribution from MRS molecular images.

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